Uefa Champions League Group H: Manchester United v Paris Saint-Germain, Wednesday December 2nd, Old Trafford (kick-off 8pm, Virgin Media 2, BT)
Ole Gunnar Solskjær has said players "from different cultures" should receive education regarding racial issues after the Manchester United striker Edinson Cavani wrote "gracias negrito" on Instagram following Sunday's win at Southampton.
The manager confirmed the English Football Association had written to the Uruguayan for his observations regarding an incident for which Cavani apologised on Monday. The previous day he deleted the post, which was a response to a follower's congratulations for scoring twice in the 3-2 victory.
Solskjær was asked whether there is a need for education across football and referenced the Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville, who voiced this view on Monday.
“I think so,” Solskjær said. “I saw Gary said something [that] maybe all players coming from different cultures should be educated and I’m sure Edinson has learned the hard way. We’ve communicated with Edinson and he’s really deeply sorry for the mistake he’s made. There was no malicious intent at all – it was just an affectionate greeting to a friend of his – but we explained to him [the situation].
“He has been asked by the FA to explain so he’ll cooperate with them, and we’ll support him. It’s one of those unfortunate situations where he’s just come into the country and in Uruguay he’s been using a different [meaning/context] to what we have [for the word] so we’ll support him and we support the FA. It’s important the FA have asked him to explain and it’s out there for everyone to see because we want to be in the fight against discrimination with everyone.”
United host Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday night needing a point from the penultimate Group H match to qualify for the Champions League knockout phase. Solskjær believes facing PSG will provide a boost to Cavani, who is the French club's record goalscorer, but that the player may be affected by Sunday's incident.
“Edinson is ready to play,” he said. “It’s special for him to play against PSG, so that’ll affect him mentally, but from knowing him that’ll give him energy. He will work on his mindset today [Tuesday] and tomorrow to be ready for the game.
“The same goes [regarding] the FA [case]. He’s learned a lesson, and it might affect him but he’ll just have to put it to one side when the game’s on. The best players can put problems or thoughts away for a while and perform when they have to.”
Solskjær praised Cavani’s work ethic. “He is an absolute top professional, [though] I’ve not been able to get to know him really, really closely because of the language barrier – we have to speak through someone else,” said the manager.
Solskjær said he would have no qualms about selecting Anthony Martial in a different position to his preferred No 9 berth, after Cavani performed so impressively in the position on Sunday. Martial was unimpressed when José Mourinho, Solskjær's predecessor, moved him to play wide and selected Zlatan Ibrahimovic at centre-forward.
"There's only one position here that we can say is only between [two]: Dean Henderson and David de Gea [for goalkeeper]," he said. "The rest of them can play in plenty of positions like Donny van de Beek."
Martial and De Gea are both available to face PSG after illness prevented the former playing at Southampton and the latter was injured during the match. – Guardian